Australia in sight of win despite Shami heroics

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Mohammed Shami returned career-best figures of 6/56 against Australia on day four of the second Test in Perth, but the hosts took a healthy lead and then reduced India to 112/5 in the fourth innings.

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India have thus lost half of their side chasing the 287-run target and Hanuma Vihari (24*) and Rishabh Pant (9*) have their task cut out for them on the final day.

Australia started the day at 132/4, with Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja at the crease. The duo frustrated India, getting stuck in and refusing the visitors a chance to break through their defence. They added 72 runs for the fifth wicket before Paine was dismissed by Shami for a 116-ball 36.

Finch, who retired hurt on the third day, came back to the crease but was dismissed off the very next delivery, as India got a foot in the door. Khawaja, who top-scored in the innings with a patient 73, fell to a short ball from Shami to give the pacer his fourth five-wicket haul.

Pat Cummins (1) and Nathan Lyon (5) were dismissed in quick succession by Jasprit Bumrah and Shami respectively. But Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood hung around to add 36 valuable runs for the final wicket, before Starc’s woodwork was disturbed by Bumrah in the 94th over with the total on 243.

The Australia pacers came out with their tails up, hitting the deck hard to create pressure on India’s out-of-form opening pair of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay. The ploy worked, as Rahul was dismissed by Starc even before the visitors opened their account.

Chesteshwar Pujara, who is India’s top scorer in the series so far, could not replicate his heroics this innings, falling to a peach of a delivery from Hazlewood. A lot rested on the shoulders of Kohli, who walked out with his team in a world of trouble at 13/2.

Vijay and Kohli tried to steady the ship after the early wickets, notching up a 35-run stand for the third wicket. However, the India skipper was baited by a tactical trap from Nathan Lyon, as the off-spinner tweaked his line to bamboozle the right-hander. Kohli drove hard at the pitched up delivery, only to edge the ball to Khawaja at first slip.

Vijay followed soon, as Lyon used the rough well. Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari fought with a 43-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The India vice-captain went on the counter-attack, getting 30 runs with this approach.

However, the pacers responded well, peppering Rahane with short balls to push him back in the crease. He yielded finally, cutting a good length delivery from Hazlewood straight to point.

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